Weekends with My Spanish Speaking Friends

It has been a wonderful blessing to have my weekend groups going again. I am starting small which is intentional on my part, so there is flexibility if the whole COVID situation changes. My groups have five friends who speak Spanish, two from Cuba and three from Mexico.

We have bonded quickly as a group. We have a lot of fun studying together and laughter fills in the room. They are people who normally would not be able to go to a class during the week due to work schedules, so being able to come Saturday and Sunday morning means a lot to them.

Yesterday we went out for lunch after our morning class. One would think it would have been at a Mexican restaurant, which would have been great for me, but they wanted burgers, so off we went to Red Robin and had burgers.

This morning after we practiced English for 45 minutes, I read a bible verse to them in English and then in Spanish. It is a verse from John 17 where Jesus tells God the Father that he wants us to be with him in heaven.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

“Padre, quiero que los que me has dado estén conmigo donde yo estoy. Que vean mi gloria, la gloria que me has dado porque me amaste desde antes de la creación del mundo”

Then I shared the music video What A Beautiful Name with them first in English and then in Spanish. They have asked me to remember to pray for them, which I happily do

I shared a closing thought with them that I want to share with you based on the verse in John 17. Jesus wants us, wants you in heaven with him for all eternity. It is the reason he came and died on the cross for us and defeated death for us. If we trust in him, have faith in him, he shares eternity with us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Back In The Game

What a weekend!!! It is as if my life is starting again. Saturday morning my Saturday morning English conversation group started again after a 14 month break due to COVID. Four Hispanic friends came, two from Cuba and two from Mexico. We did an intercambio, exchange, mostly of me helping them with English, but they also helped me with Spanish.

Saturday afternoon I hosted a retirement party at my church for my colleague for my morning class. We managed to surprise her. We had students from my morning class, my colleague’s family, people who she worked with at other schools, and people from the school my morning meets. We had SO much good food and a lot of fun.

This morning the same four Hispanic friends came again for my Sunday morning group. We did an intercambio again and also listened to some worship songs in Spanish, It was also the first Sunday morning I enjoyed worship service in person.

This afternoon I will try to catch up on blogging. The past week was so busy with finishing up my morning class. But what a weekend it was.

How was your weekend?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- My New Teaching Toy

You know the saying, “the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys?” This past week that has certainly been true of me for my U.S. Citizenship classes. The Community Center I teach them for rents space from a larger Community Agency. That agency had something new installed in the conference rooms I teach in.

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The new set up has a large screen TV which is connected to the internet, a cool sound system, and has a cordless keyboard and mouse. It has been so much fun this past week trying out my new toy. 🙂

The classes are blended classes with some students joining in Zoom and some students in person. We can see the Zoom students on the large 64 inch screen. They can see the whole classroom. I have been having fun exploring what I can do with this wonderful new toy. 🙂

Even with the fun new technology, the most fun for me is the diverse group of students. My students come from Burma, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Libya, Mexico and Sudan. As I teach them, I think about how they can all become Americans. We are all studying together because they each share the same goal.

Yet as wonderful as it will be when they each become citizens, it pales in comparison to the ultimate realization of diverse people coming together as one with the same purpose which will be to rejoice over being in the presence of Jesus. People from every tribe, tongue/language, nation will be there.

Another thought- no electronics, tech, toys etc in this life can compare to what we will see in heaven. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Stormy Days

Waking up to a thunderstorm, the realization that my plans for today have changed have dawned on me. I had plans to have a picnic to reconnect with some of my friends from Colombia, Dominica Republic, Mexico and Peru. It looks like we are changing from summer weather to fall weather in one day.

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So it looks like a day to stay home after church and do some writing. My U.S. Citizenship classes are on break, so no teaching today. It will be a good day for writing. I am actually writing this post before I go to church. First time writing in the morning for me.

When plans change, it is God’s way of guiding me to what he wants me to do. Today and this week it will be writing and trying to finish my book. I feel a short story brewing in my mind too. A stormy day is a good day to write, drink coffee, and at times watch the storms as the roll in.

What do you like to do on a stormy day?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Signs of Normal?

Life has not been ‘normal’ for three months now. One area affected has been Immigration and Citizenship applicants. Immigration halted interviews for U.S. Citizenship in late March due to the virus.

In the Citizenship class I teach, I have some students who have been waiting for an interview. One of them received a letter two days before his interview in late March that the appointment would be postponed.

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He received a letter last week informing him that he has a new appointment time on June 22nd. He is ready for it and I know that on June 22nd we will have a new citizen.

That is just one of the signs of ‘normal’ slowly returning.

We have had our class using Zoom since early April. While it has been good we could continue the class, it is not the same as being in the classroom in person. I found out last week that my Citizenship class can return to the building in July.

A few other examples of ‘normal’ slowly returning are my favorite hamburger place reopened this past week, we can get haircuts now- I need one- and schools are discussing being in the building in the fall.

The sign I am most excited about is that my home church will announce Tuesday evening the plan to return worship services and other ministries to being live in the building. It will be wonderful to see friends in person again.

What signs or return to ‘normal’ are you excited about?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

I Saw My Students- IN PERSON!!!

FINALLY!!! I saw them. I saw some of my students in person.

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Monday morning I went to the school where my morning Family Literacy class meets. We were online due to COVID-19 to finish the year. I saw my students online in Zoom and was happy to continue teaching them. But it is not the same as seeing someone in person.

The Coordinator and I met them outside the school building to give them bags filled with items they can use. It was to say to them good job staying with the class online.

First I saw my three Karen People moms. They are so cute as they walk together. The tallest one is maybe 5 feet even. I talked with them for a few minutes, socially distanced of course, and gave them the bags and a thing of laundry soap. I told them how proud I am of them and said- Dabloo- which is thank you in their language.

Then one by one my Hispanic moms came. As each one came, I told them-“Yo estoy muy orgulloso de ti porque tu continuas con mi clases en Zoom. Muchas gracias.” Which means I am very proud of you for continuing with my classes in Zoom. Thank you very much. We gave them their bags and soap.

None of the moms wore masks. Seeing their smiles made my week. I did not lecture them about wearing masks.

They will be back with me in Zoom class starting this morning for one month of summer school.

Teaching people from diverse cultures and ethnic background reminds me all of the time of the truth of John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

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Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Blessed by Small Moments

Sunday Morning I woke up feeling fatigued which is normal in my life. I made myself get ready, so I could go to church. On such mornings it is a temptation to stay home all day in my sweat clothes and relax or just stay in bed.

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But I had a very important thing to do.

My young friend from Vietnam, who has come to my Sunday morning group since last summer, will move to Texas this Wednesday. Sunday morning was time to say goodbye. We prayed for her at the end and after we finished praying she cried. It was a poignant moment.

Then as I went to worship service, I saw my friends from Rwanda. I always enjoy greeting them in French and welcoming them. I like to joke with them by asking if they had any tests and if they did I congratulate them.

Before I went into worship service, a friend from Brazil introduced me to a new family from Brazil. We spoke in Portuguese which was fun. While we were talking, one of the pastors came by to introduce me to a woman from Mexico. I spoke with her in Spanish and shared with her about my Sunday morning class.

If I had given in to the fatigue and pain, I would have missed out on those wonderful moments. Moments of sharing Christ’s love with people from four different countries.

Small moments of blessing are too easily overlooked by us especially if we are only looking for the big moments.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- She Won A Christmas Tree But What to Do?

My story times posts reach back to the past and this one is no exception. It reaches all of the way back to yesterday. 🙂 It is so fitting for Christmas.

Yesterday morning in my Family Literacy Class, the coordinator brought an artificial Christmas tree she didn’t need anymore. I noticed as soon as I opened the door and saw a large green bag laying on the floor. Before I could go next door to her room and say something like, “Why is there a large green bag on my floor?” she came in and told me we could raffle it off.

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I had the students write their names on pieces of paper for the drawing. We drew the name and the winner?

She is all of MAYBE 5’1″ and is pregnant due in February. She just came to the U.S. one month ago and speaks a few words of English. She was so happy to win the tree. Then she looked at it and right away her eyes got real big. It was the look of a small pregnant woman suddenly realizing she had to get it home to her apartment somehow. She does not have a car and could not carry it.

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As soon as he name was drawn, I knew she would need help. We arranged the help she needed. She has only been here one month and might now have much furniture yet, but she has a Christmas tree for Christmas. She is from Guatemala and does celebrate Christmas. Her family will have a Merry First Christmas in America.

How often do we experience the- What do I do now- thoughts and feelings. They can hit whether it is the result of something good or a problem. We can take comfort in knowing the God is never surprised. He knows before we do that we will need help. Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 6:

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Our heavenly Father knows everything before ask. He has the plan ready. He is never surprised.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.